Bits and Pieces

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Amusement, Buffalo, Industrial

The rest of the places in Buffalo this weekend that weren’t quite big enough for their own posts

WILDROOT — the product that made 50s hair the greased-up mess it was. Just by nature of what the factory made, and a precipitous drop off in demand once greasers were out and bowl cuts were in, Wildroot closed after just 14 years of operation, in 1963. A few later attempts were made to bring the product back, then to attach the Wildroot name to other hair products, but the association with crew cuts and grease was just too much for the company to ever be profitable again, and the factory was left to rot.

A TV commercial from 1953 for Wildroot:

And their factory roof from 2012:

The decay in there was about the level one would expect for a place coming up on 50 years gone


STATLER — Theater in South Buffalo that went the way of most live theaters around the country; first into a movie house, then into oblivion. After the theater’s closing, it spent some time as a shared church/mosque known as the Holy God Temple, until that too closed. Renovations are expected to begin later in 2012 on the theater to bring it back to life as a Broadway theater for traveling shows. Unfortunately I had the absolute wrong lens for the job here and couldn’t take any pictures of the whole theater, or anything close. I’d like you to at least imagine this sunbeam pointed down onto one random seat in the gallery, since that’s the shot I wanted to take!


This theater organ has certainly seen better days…

Don’t try exploring the Statler on your own… it is FRESHLY boarded up as of today, we got permission (easy to obtain) from the developers, who will come and personally unscrew and un-nail some boards just for you! The other way in is much too dangerous, unless you enjoy falling through floors as much as I do!

TERMINAL — I’ve already seen most of what there is to see here, but I was back again, and did a few redos of pictures from last December…


And a clever graffiti that wasn’t here last time:
Pass out
Didn’t bring nearly enough beer for that one to work…

Capitol Offense

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Albany, Amusement, Industrial

There are days meant for just getting the hell out of here… this weekend was certainly one of them. The combination of dealing with grad school, Laura and being indoors all winter put me over the edge; I had to do something besides another weekend with Her, and I had to do it NOW! So, as soon as Laura was safely on the bus to class for a Friday morning (and she’d just stayed with me, so I had to make sure it looked like nothing was out of the ordinary), I packed my bag (consisting of mostly beer) and set off running for the train!

About halfway to the station I heard a muffled BANG! from my backpack as my growler of home brewed ale chose to explode at the worst possible moment. Doing the only thing that made sense at the time, I fished out the broken jug and chugged, and chugged, as much of the spewing geyser of potent brew, and threw the remains into a trash can before too many people saw. Not that it helped much, by the time I was in my seat on the train, the world was swaying much more than just the gentle rattle of iron on steel. Little did I know this would probably be my closest encounter with sobriety for the entire weekend… and most of my photos show it!

This building is a hotel with a very surprising location, backed up directly against the New York state capitol, with which it even shares a basement, with doors still extant into the capital and the Empire Plaza parking garage. While the building was ordinary enough abandoned hotel, the location was quite striking.

Looking out at the main wing of the hotel, and the Capitol directly behind

In the lobby; this is where people would have entered from the Capitol concourse.

The hallways were particularly narrow and drab for a hotel, especially one bound to attract the political type

After restocking at a beer store in Colonie our next location was the Starlite Theater, a bizarre circular venue that closed in about 2004, mostly due to the unpopularity of a circular stage

This wasn’t the most interesting place, especially with a county sheriff keeping an eye on it, so we went back to our first location of the weekend, AlTech Specialty Steel. AlTech is probably the largest abandonment I’ve seen yet, at nearly a million square feet across 11 surviving buildings, enough to make even night photography interesting and challenging. We stayed here well into the night for beer and exploring in the old Concrete way with at least six bottles of the old Double Bastards!




My only regret here is that in easily 12 hours of wandering around and exploring over three nights, I only managed to take a few indoor photos at the very end… the best part is this place is so wide open I know we can come back in a few months and do it all over again!


They All Fall Down

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Adirondacks, Amusement, Industrial, North Country

Another return trip, this time to the Adirondacks, once again, with UR UrbEx. As one might expect, the place looks almost exactly the same as it always did. I won’t bore you with more overview photos of Frontier Town, since it’s just what it was last year… I tried to focus more on details this year, as the place falls down there’s less and less left to see though.

Abandoned pianos are so much fun. Especially when there’s no risk of getting caught and you can actually “play” them (which usually amounts to absolute noise, but still…)

What’s left of Main Street – Nature has basically won!

The church is probably the most authentic and most solid structure in all of Frontier Town

This is the house where Teddy Roosevelt found out he had become President after McKinley’s assassination in 1901. It has seen far better days.

Cold Borscht

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Amusement, Catskills, Concrete, Institutional

I’m near the point where this becomes an addiction. It’s finals of my senior year, and the only thing on my mind is getting back to the Catskills. Nate doesn’t even want to wait the week (the misery of entrepreneurship and self employment has some silver lining, it seems), but I finally convince him to wait until after my last exam to go back. So we spent the week planning and plotting, and finding every abandoned resort that might be worth a visit.

The first one we explored, the Tamarack, has a typical story of intrigue and shady dealings for the region; after the decline and fall of the original Borscht Belt, these once-luxury properties went on the market for a pittance, attracting a variety of entrepreneurs from assorted sectors. The Tamarack’s new owners were a purported Mohican Nation, a tribe that only exists in James Fenimore Cooper’s eponymous novel, “The Last of the Mohicans”; their plan, which probably involved an Indian casino and/or tax evasion, landed them in state and federal court on an unwinnable case. The property itself, maintained by a live-in caretaker (oops!) and a landscaping crew, features a ‘Mohican’ cultural museum and annual festival, but the resort proper sits abandoned awaiting new life as a casino.

Unlike Grossingers, Tamarack built on more of a ‘Great Camp’ floor plan, with large mansion-like units instead of a single connected complex.

The swimming pool (and furniture depository) is one of its most recognizable landmarks

I love finding abandoned pianos that still play!

Quite a collection. Too bad these are obsolete now… for some reason abandoned hospitals and hotels did this a lot

Flying saucers and tepees? Oh my! The only thing better than a questionable architectural decision, is TWO questionable architectural decisions. This was in the room that purported to be the Mohican Museum!

The caretaker’s bedroom? Or a squatter’s suicide scene? The tableau here is so depressingly creepy… pill bottles, rotting can of food, unmade filthy bed, and law school study guides. This doesn’t tell a warm fuzzy story at all…

Right after this we ran into the guy. He was kind of pissed, and made us leave — at least he didn’t call the cops. You know, he was probably afraid of the cops catching him for that whole ‘Mohican’ business…

See the rest of the set here

Hot Borscht

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Amusement, Catskills, Institutional

Grossinger’s resort on a horrendously hot April afternoon. Open from the turn of the century to 1986, Grossinger’s was one of the three crown jewels of the Catskill resort area, known in its time as the Borscht Belt or Jewish Alps for the predominant nationality of its vacationers. These resorts were the reason the now-desolate route 17 expressway was built from New York to Binghamton, which once packed with bumper-to-bumper traffic every summer weekend. Now the resort towns sit boarded-up and depopulated, and those resorts that haven’t burned down yet remain abandoned and open to the elements.

25 years can do wonders on a place. Nearly everything was this moldy or more…

Sometimes with weirdly beautiful results like this rainbow bathroom!

This framework belongs to a never-built lobby and entrance to the resort. At the time of its closure in 1986, Grossingers was just beginning a campaign of extensive renovations, which ultimately ran it bankrupt, a victim of its own grandeur in a declining era.

The enormous grand ballroom. I could almost hear the jazz combo playing the night away on the stage.

No such luck for the dining room. One more winter and this is due to fold in on itself completely.

This space was even larger still, with no clear purpose. What was it?

There’s two spots at Grossingers everyone knows to visit: the lobby bar

and the indoor swimming pool. Built to full Olympic size, with space-age architecture, no expenses were spared here

Since the resort closed, the pool and its glass walls and ceiling have become a sort of terrarium, with a year-round ecosystem of ferns, mosses and birds thriving.

Lots more here!

The Lonesome Crowded West

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Adirondacks, Amusement, North Country

Frontier Town was one of the first theme parks ever to open in the United States, in 1952, capitalizing on the old west folklore that was then so popular with American children. (There were amusement parks since the turn of the last century, but not themed to one particular canon.) It finally closed long after Westerns fell out of fashion, in 1998, and most of its contents were auctioned off in 2004. This was a particularly strange exploration for me, having been there and vaguely remembering it from a day there in 1996 (I didn’t like it much at the time, I remember that much).

This was once an arena with rodeo and cops-and-robbers shows in it:

Frontier industry. One of the main attractions was a functional early 1800s museum village, with a saw mill, blacksmith, one room schoolhouse, etc.
Old Mill

This giant hammer did … something. We weren’t able to figure out what a saw mill would need it for.

Frontier Town’s main street
Main Street

An oxymoron in those days!

Nature is the frontier’s only law

Apparently a gas station moved in at some point

More photos from the weekend here.